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Archive for ‘Technology’

In Kazakhstan We Have Many Hobbies, Except Blogging

I agree with Simon Chester, Borat was a “silly film.” The real country of Kazakhstan is making headlines, and few people online are laughing.

The parliament in that country has approved a new law that would allow criminal prosecution for blogs, chat rooms and social networking sites. Foreign sites considered unsuitable can also be blocked.

The government defends the recent move, saying it is intended for child pornography and extremist literature. But critics cay that it can also be used to censor content on elections, strikes, demonstrations, and inter-ethnic strife.

The popular blog site,, is already inaccessible to . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology

Wolfram-Alpha Time Sheet Tip

Math has never been my strong suit. Keeping my day organized in 6 minute intervals is sometimes a chore. My firm changed accounting software and with that change I decided to use the new tool efficiently and no longer keep a paper time sheet. Unfortunately, I no longer have the nice little conversion chart that used to be on my paper form.

New search tools have been getting some press here on Slaw, including WolframAlpha. This computational search engine makes for an easy shortcut to inputting the correct time span into online time sheet.

The resulting hours plus . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology

Canada’s Lawful Access Legislation: Civil Rights and Privacy Concerns

Neither civil libertarians nor privacy advocates are likely to be pleased with the two Bills introduced last week by Canada’s federal government, Bills which are intended to give police wider powers to access online data without a warrant. If passed, the Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act (Bill C-47) will require Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) and other “telecommunications service providers” to install equipment facilitating the interception of communications, and to allow police access, without a warrant, to the personal information of users including names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and internet protocol addresses. The Investigative Powers . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Substantive Law, Technology

Law Librarians Lovin’ the Facebook

I recently helped the Toronto Association of Law Libraries (TALL) set up a Facebook group. I’ve long suspected it: law librarians *love* Facebook. It is a place where we can talk to each other one-on-one, share photos about our personal lives, play word games, and join groups of interest. Almost immediately after creating the TALL group, we had over 30 people sign up by word of mouth. Official word about the group went out a few weeks ago, and we now have more than double that signed up.

Some of our thinking behind creating the group:

  • members were asking
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information, Miscellaneous, Technology

Oxford Law Dictionary Now for iPhone

White Park Bay, a company that seems to specialize in porting Oxford University Press books to the iPhone, has published a number of OUPs technical dictionaries as iPhone apps, among them the Oxford Dictionary of Law. (This link will take you to it in the app store on your iTunes.) The dictionary sells for CD14.99 (who’s kidding whom with this penny less pricing?). You will note that while rich for an iTunes app, many of which sell at just under a dollar, it’s a whole lot cheaper than the Black’s Law Dictionary, which sells for CD50 (with a penny . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Legal Information, Legal Information: Publishing, Reading, Technology

Precise Answers From Google

I had a bit of a head-scratching experience just now: Google gave me a precise answer to a search that was more or less framed as a question; and I can’t recall ever seeing that before. Is this an old feature I’ve never stumbled on or is it something new that’s having a soft launch?

I usually don’t give Google a question, having learned instead to feed it a string of keywords tied in a Boolean knot. But today I asked “how many canals in amsterdam”? The first item in the results was an unequivocal answer — and not one . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Information Management, Technology: Internet

Google Books Improves

Google Books has released a number of improvements designed to make reading and sharing their material easier. The Books blog, Inside Google Book Search lists seven changes:

  1. embedding and links – From the new toolbar on a Books page you can copy a link to the source or the html necessary to produce an iframe in your blog or web page that will embed the source.
  2. improved search – There’s now more context around your search terms, and you can rank your search results by relevance as well as page order.
  3. thumbnail view – More useful, perhaps, where images are
. . . [more]
Posted in: Reading, Technology: Internet

Lakehead U May Use Google Email System

Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, switched from an internal email system to Google Mail. The Faculty Association objected on the grounds that this breached terms in the collective agreement giving faculty the right to privacy in their personal and professional communications. ((Article 16.01.03 of the Collective Agreement provides: The Board agrees that members have the right to privacy in their personal and professional communications and files, whether on paper or in electronic form. )) The argument was that because Google and the relevant servers are based in the United States, authorities from that country would have legitimate and other . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Substantive Law, Technology

Evaluating Technology, Use Of

An evaluation of the Law Commission of Ontario will begin this fall. (Since it has been full operating – working on projects – only since February 2008, this may seem premature or early. Early it is, premature it is not because it is tied to the funding renewal/renewal of mandate process that will begin in spring or thereabouts next year.) There are many questions about evaluation (who should do it? who should be part of the process? and so on), but I am bringing one to this group: whether anyone has had experience with evaluating an organization’s use of technology. . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

U.S. Searches of Laptops at Border Questioned

We’ve talked half a dozen times on Slaw about the United States Border Services’ practice of instituting suspicionless searches of travellers’ laptops, recommending basically that lawyers take nothing but a clean machine across the border.

Now the American Civil Liberties Union has made a formal request under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act for records setting out or touching upon policies establishing and governing this practice, as well as data as to the number of searches, the characteristics of persons whose devices were searched, and so forth. The official request adumbrates the ACLU argument that these searches may infringe the . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology

Digital Humanities Summer Institute

I’ve been attending classes this week at the University of Victoria’s DHSI. From the website:

The Digital Humanities Summer Institute provides an environment ideal to discuss, to learn about, and to advance skills in new computing technologies influencing the work of those in the Arts, Humanities and Library communities.

Perhaps the only institute of its kind, attendees come from all over the world (in my class there are people from Europe, the US, and Thailand as well as Canadians from all parts). We have grad students, professors and librarians.

To get an idea of the content, have a look . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Reading, Technology

Trade-Mark Owners Can Prevent Their Marks From Being Registered as Usernames on Facebook

I’m borrowing (or plagiarizing) this piece from my partner Mark Edward Davis

On Tuesday, June 9, 2009, Facebook, an extremely popular social networking website based in the United States, announced that beginning Saturday, June 13th at 12:01 a.m. EDT, users of the Facebook website will be allowed to create personalized URLs for their Facebook pages in the format ( Currently, a Facebook user’s webpages are identified by an id number. While this change allows users to personalize their URL, it also creates the potential for Facebook users to misappropriate a trade-mark as their username ( To prevent the unauthorized . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology